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Kepler Telescope Spots Alien Object, or Something Less Sexy?

Image: Kepler Telescope Spots Alien Object, or Something Less Sexy?
Artist conception of Kepler Telescope on the job.  (Reuters)

By    |   Friday, 16 Oct 2015 08:08 AM

The Kepler Space Telescope's discovery of objects spinning around a star could be an alien mega-structure for capturing light or something less sexy, such as comets, according to scientists examining the phenomena.

The NASA telescope looked at the unusual formation above the Milky Way galaxy for more than four years starting in 2009 and it continued to baffle astronomers, according to The Atlantic.

"We'd never seen anything like this star," said Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. "It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out."

Several "citizen scientists" flagged one star in 2011 that was emitting a light pattern that look more unusual than other stars spotted by Kepler. The pattern showed matter circling the star in a tight formation, which made it unusual because the star appeared to be older.

"When (Boyajian) showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked," Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, told The Atlantic. "Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build."

Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post said the star may simply be a natural phenomenon never seen before.

"The light from the star dips dramatically in irregular intervals," said Achenbach. "That's not the pattern seen in stars with transiting planets. Thus one conjecture is that this could be due to a swarm of alien mega-structures, like lots of solar panels."

"But it's also what you expect the universe to throw at you, repeatedly: stuff you can't quite figure out on first glance."

Achenbach gave the example of when pulsars were discovered and scientists originally wondered if the dense "neutron stars" could be some sort of alien beacon when first spotted in 1967.

"Kepler may simply have detected a star swarmed by comets," said Achenbach. "Not nearly as interesting an explanation. Or there may be something causing that unusual pattern of light emission that is equally mundane."


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The Kepler Space Telescope's discovery of objects spinning around a star could be an alien mega-structure for capturing light or something less sexy, such as comets, according to scientists examining the phenomena.
kepler, telescope, alien, object
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2015-08-16
Friday, 16 Oct 2015 08:08 AM
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